Quarterback Peyton Manning leads the illustrious group of Colts who will have the honor of playing in today's game. The record-setting signal caller will appear in his eighth Pro Bowl. It's the ninth Pro Bowl selection of Manning's 10-year career.
Manning finished fourth in the AFC, and the NFL, in passer rating with a 98.0 mark. He was also fourth in the league in touchdown passes, with 31, and threw for 4,040 yards, one of just six QBs to surpass the 4,000-yard mark.Manning will start in the game after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — who broke Manning's single-season touchdown record, with 50 scores in 2007 — pulled out after losing Super Bowl XLII last week.
It's no surprise that Manning, who has made a habit of breaking significant records, also holds a handful of Pro Bowl records as well: He's the game's leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and attempts.
Jeff Saturday and Peyton Manning
(Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Manning will interact with plenty of his Indianapolis teammates today. He'll take snaps from Jeff Saturday, who will start at center for the AFC, and he'll have running back Joseph Addai in the backfield as well. When Manning looks to pass, he'll zero in on Reggie Wayne, who will start for the AFC at wide receiver.
Addai finished 14th in the league in rushing, with 1,072 rushing yards, the second straight 1,000-yard season of his two-year career. But the LSU product tied for second in the NFL in touchdowns with 12. Addai will likely start in the game after perennial AFC starter LaDainian Tomlinson withdrew due to injury.
Saturday anchored an offensive line that not only paved the way for Addai and backup Kenton Keith, who gained 553 yards, it also gave Manning time to throw for over 4,000 yards. The Colts finished fifth in the NFL in total offense with 5,739 yards from scrimmage, an average of 358.7 yards per game. The Colts were also third in the league in points per game, with a 28.1 average.
Wayne had the best season of his seven-year career, finishing third in the NFL with 104 receptions. He led the league with 1,510 receiving yards and caught 10 touchdown passes.
It's the second-straight Pro Bowl selection for Wayne, who will start in the game and will likely be the top concern for the NFC's pass defense — after all, Manning and Wayne have hooked up for 46 career touchdowns, the second most between a current quarterback and receiver.
On the defensive sid of the ball, Defensive Player of the year Bob Sanders was selected to start in the game, but he won't play because of an injury. But free safety Antoine Bethea was added to the team after Sanders and Troy Polamalu pulled out of the game.
Bethea made 95 tackles and shared the team lead in interceptions with four this season. He'll try to slow down an NFC passing attack led by the Dallas trio of Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and Jason Witten.
With several starters, like Brady, Tomlinson, and Randy Moss on the shelf for today's game, the Colts players should see plenty of action today — which is just what the players and their fans would like to see after the season ended a bit too early. Don't be surprised if Manning puts up some big numbers today.